The Titans pulled a switcheroo at the running back position on Wednesday, waiving Jamie Harper and signing free agent Jalen Parmele.
Harper was the Titans' fourth-round selection in 2011 out of Clemson. A bigger back at 5'11", 233 pounds, the Titans seemed to draft him with the expectation he might be a short-yardage back, but he quickly fell out of favor and struggled to regain it. He finished his Titans career with 36 carries for 74 yards and 4 touchdowns. As he indicated after being notified the Titans would be parting ways with him, the writing was on the wall when the Titans signed Shonn Greene to fill the hole he might theoretically have filled. I thought there was a chance he could stick around as the RB3 behind CJ and Greene, but without the Titans' trust as a runner or the ability to play special teams he wouldn't have contributed much. His release puts about $150,000 in dead money on this year's cap.
Harper was released because the Titans wanted to sign Jalen Parmele. A member of the Jaguars in 2012, he carried the ball 8 times for 45 yards in the Week 12 contest between the two teams, a game in which he suffered a groin injury on the first play that he would aggravate later in the game and that would later send him to injured reserve. He broke in with the Dolphins and spent a couple seasons with the Ravens before getting his most extensive work (40 carries for 143 yards) in Jacksonville last year, where his position coach was new Titans running backs coach Sylvester Croom.
I re-watched Parmele's touches against the Titans and his biggest game (24-80, plus three receptions) the week before against the Texans. Like Harper, he's a bigger back, listed at 5'11" and 225 pounds. Again like Harper, I'd classify him as roughly replacement-level as a runner. If there are yards there to get, he'll get those yards. If there aren't, he won't. He caught a couple screen passes and dumpoffs. More importantly, unlike Harper, he's a special teams contributor. He returned kicks for Jacksonville last year and with Baltimore in 2009 and 2010. He also has experience playing coverage as well. It's easier to keep an RB3 active every week when he can contribute in that way. For that reason, I'd say the Titans' roster got better with this move. Not a lot better, and maybe not even noticeably better, but better.